Category Archives: David Pearson

Make Things Fast

Making Things Fast is important when you’re working on something. Especially something new and hopefully innovative. (but it doesn’t matter if it is or not, really.)

What matters is not the planning (although there is the need for some) and it’s not about whether or not you fail (although your producers may not see it that way) but it’s about MAKING things.

Content is Dialogue

What’s important, really, is making stuff. Don’t be too precious with your ideas; share them, get out there and make them. They don’t work? Never mind, start a new project.

Don’t plan for so long you run out of steam. Hit the ground running, sprint, then stop when you’re done. Catch your breath. Do it again.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO FAIL.

FAILURE IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF LEARNING.

“You don’t build a community, the community builds itself.”

Thomas Howalt

 

“The story stays the same, it’s the teller who keeps changing.” [paraphrased]

Lance Weiler

 

LEADERS are NOT who are important. The most important people you  can have on your side are the FIRST ADOPTERS.

These are the guys who are into your cause from the beginning. They’re there and not afraid to say ‘Hey, I think this is cool!’
Even if it makes them look stupid. They’re taking that risk.
EMBRACE THEM.

Without at least one follower, a leader is just a guy.

Trying and failing is as important, if not more so, that succeeding.

 

Story, Goals, Audience, Interaction.
There are what you need to create something, especially something interactive, and successful.
If you can, try and conceive all of these SIMULTANEOUSLY.

Consider ‘Media Specific’ storytelling.

Does your story have:
INTRIGUE – EMPATHY – DELIGHT

If not, make it so.

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Notes on Documentary

With David Pearson.

What IS documentary?

Is is a personal view.
It is about change.
It is about, hopefully, making people change their view on a subject.

Documentaries need to highlight things that are REAL.

The first film EVER was a documentary.

John Grierson is often cited as the ‘father’ of documentary.

“[Documentary is] the creative treatment of actuality.”

– John Grierson

In 1960, Documentary changed forever, with the introduction of the Éclair NPR.

Eclair NPR

Eclair NPR

NPR stood for ‘Noiseless Portable Reflex’. it was the first silent, hand held camera, which allowed filmmakers to get up close and personal, roam, and gain better access. It meant that you could be in amongst the action, rather than watching from the sidelines with a massive, heavy, tripod mounted camera.

The next year, in 1961, the Nagra III NP was released. It was the first portable reel-to-reel recorder allowed sound work to be done on location. Now, documentaries could be filmed anywhere.

 

Nagra III NP

Nagra III NP

A lot of stuff, not surprisingly, is not available online, and so many documentaries are being missed. This is because they happened BC:AD, (on magnetic tape, basically) and so never got converted. If you want to get hold of them, you have to hunt for them. Most consumers don’t want to do that.

BC:AD

Before Chips : After Digital

OBSERVATION IS NOT EVERYTHING!

Documentaries should:

  • Be interesting
  • Promote understanding
  • Give insight
  • Entertain
  • Tell the TRUTH

There are five basic types of Documentary that include:

  • Observational
  • Written essay (often using the ‘Voice of God’)
  • Participant (such as Michael Moore documentaries, where the maker is involved)
  • Impressionistic (like Grierson’s stuff)
  • Docudrama

The ‘Observation’ style has been greatly abused by TV. Nowadays, decent documentaries that get made for love are usually indie, but the stuff that makes money is the fixed rig shit documentaries pumped out by Channel 4, or the abusive and shameful absurd ‘My Big Fat Friend’s Left Food Is A Ham’.

Habits of Successful Filmmakers:

  • Being inventive
  • Having ‘Unorthodox’ solutions to problems
  • Good negotiating skills
  • Having faith in the project
  • Tenacity
  • Flexibility
  • Ability to bring people into a project, and stick by you
  • Ability to survive on fuck all very little money

Good tips

  • Take notes
  • Be concise
  • Ask direct questions
  • Consider: ‘Why will anyone care?’
  • Don’t do ‘Subjects’, tell stories
  • Don’t be afraid to break rules
  • Take contributors with you
  • Don’t be boring
  • Avoid ‘Worthiness’ (my story is worthy of being made because… Not because it’s interesting)
  • Be able to summarise efficiently

Is your idea really a documentary? Is that the right format?

ENGAGE – GRIP – ENTERTAIN – BE TRUE

What makes a good project?

  • Your films should be personal! (at least to some extent. Every filmmaker has to care about the film that they are making.)
  • You are allowed to indulge your passions! You can always find (or invent) the story.
  • You need a good starting idea.
  • It helps if its meaningful, but it doesn’t have to be.
  • Style and content are key.
  • You’ve got to understand the narrative.
  • It must be well researched (particularly if it’s factual).
  • Acknowledge your influences.
  • Pay attention to aesthetics.
  • You are allowed to rip people off a bit.
  • Make sure you know what you’re doing during the creative process.
  • Think about your audience.
  • Think of yourself as your audience, what do you like? (indulge your passions)
  • Audiences are not homogenous, they are diverse! 
  • Films are about delivering an emotional experience:
    EXPRESS THOSE EMOTIONS (through the story you are telling)
  • How do you attract an audience?
    – Engage your Global audience
    – Ensure that the audience knows who the protagonist is and what he wants.
    – Ensure the protagonist has changed in some way by the conclusion of the film.
  • End with an understandable emotional outcome.

STORY IS STRUCTURE

  • Ensure the audience is quickly hooked (within the first 10% of the film at least)
  • STRONG CHARACTERS = STRONGER STORY
  • Reveal your story on a ‘need to know’ basis.
  • Avoid too much exposition, but avoid confusion.
  • It can help to have a log line, especially if you need some focus.
  • Achieving a good film is a process, it takes time, be patient.
  • The log line should impart three pieces of information:
    Who? (is it about?)
    What? (happens to them?)
    How? (do they achieve it?)

WHAT HELPS?

  • A good title
  • Good beginnings
  • Strong story
  • Strong characters
  • Appropriate tone
  • Strong climaxes
  • A good poster and good trailers
  • Consider: Does your film give the audience the ‘How does this turn out?’ feeling early on?

WRITE. REWRITE. TEST.

If you have a good story but it isn’t working, how do you fix it?
Try telling it with a different voice, perhaps? Try telling it from someone else’s perspective?

  • Consider your audience at ALL stages.
  • Write and test your ideas.
  • Invoke an emotional response through telling.
  • Avoid too much/too little exposition
  • Be prepared to write and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite and re…etc.